Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

Japanese society going over to the 'Dark Side'

28 Comments

Illegal loan sharks who prey on increasingly desperate borrowers; rampant tax evasion; trolls in cyberspace who recruit group suicides or who serve as middlemen for prostitution by minors, or who arrange services of hitmen. Some sell their family registry data to abet sham marriages with foreigners. "Hakobiya" (mules) smuggle drugs and other illegal substances, assuming the risk of imprisonment for a round-trip ticket abroad and a pathetically small payout.

Biweekly magazine Sapio (Sept 9) takes up these and other matters in a 12-page special section titled "Writhing of the 'Dark Society' that is Swallowing up Japan." The title and articles that follow imply Japan is becoming a society where the law of the jungle reigns.

The three-page story on tax evasion could well provide inspiration for a remake of "Marusa no Onna." In fiscal 2008, the National Tax Agency charged companies and individuals with evasion to the tune of 35 billion yen, the top five offenders being mining and metals firms, real estate companies, worker dispatch firms, commodities brokers and pachinko shop operators. Investigators armed with search warrants did their digging in places like the back yard of a Fukushima factory owner, where they unearthed a canister containing 73 million yen in cash. In addition to heavy fines, the most serious violators face imprisonment.

Basically, any current news topic can be spun off as an opportunity for creative con artists. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication's PR activities for the switchover from analog to digital TV in 2011, for example, have spurred a host of new scams. Some crooks call on householders, clad in uniforms resembling those worn at mass appliance retailers; others present business cards introducing themselves as staff of the above ministry's "Promotional Business Bureau." In both cases, their aim is trick naïve people into signing up for unnecessary rewiring work or electronic components.

High-pressure sales techniques for energy-efficient water heaters and other products related to the so-called "eco boom" have resulted in well-meaning householders being bilked out of millions of yen. A standard MO is to tell potential buyers they're entitled to a government rebate. "But eligibility is limited, so you have to sign up right now or you can't get it," a salesman will say.

Within weeks of the outbreak of H1N1 influenza, hucksters were peddling spurious medications. Now, with reports of the first fatalities and fears of an epidemic as the weather turns cooler, more flu-related scams are a virtual certainty.

When it comes to illegal profiteering, however, virtually nothing is sacred. This year being the 20th anniversary of Emperor Akihito's ascension to the throne, as well as the 50th anniversary of his marriage to Empress Michiko, there's been a leap in scams by companies marketing deluxe framed portraits to people who didn't order them.

"If you receive goods you didn't order, you can just dispose of them after 14 days," advises Asao Ito, a spokesperson for the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan. "But it seems the greater the esteem a person holds toward the imperial family, the harder it is for him to discard such pictures.

"Scammers are harnessing that psychology to their advantage."

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
Login to comment

Mention of "the Dark Side" and "the Emperor"? I've got a bad feeling about this...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

is the dark side stronger?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“But it seems the greater the esteem a person holds toward the imperial family, the harder it is for him to discard such pictures."

Sorry, but if someone is mug enough to pay for something he didn't order, he deserves shafting. What do you reckon the target age group is for this particular scam? Surely not our wise and revered seniors?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The interesting thing about this is that the presumption seems to be that these things haven't been happening all along. Things like tax evasion have been an issue for decades in Japan. It's only now that anyone cares enough to talk about it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good point Orchid64,

It is written like only now people in Japan are becoming capable of such evils. They should ask people from other Asian countries about Japan's Dark side.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

like...what is new? I have been here 14 years and Japan has always had these problems..I imagine for much longer than I have been here too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No!! I disagree with "sf2k" comment the dark side is not stronger. May the force be with you. And keep your light saber close at hand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Some sell their family registry data to abet sham marriages with foreigners."

I find it surprising to include this bit of caustic language. I bet that this only causes a fraction of 1 percent of the actual criminal activity in Japan.

Many seemingly legal operations in Japan are running scams and evading taxes. Everyone is on the payroll.

I was planning to hand out some flyers on the street for a promotion i was running, and a friend recommended to not do it, otherwise the local yakuza could stop me in a few minutes. Very few profitable commercial activities can be carried out without clearing them with your local friendly "jimusho".

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Resist the Dark Side of the Force!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Every culture and country has a dark side. No different from the US and its gangs, drugs, and illegals (I just pulled those out of the air) than Japan and its issues.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is written like only now people in Japan are becoming capable of such >evils. They should ask people from other Asian countries about Japan's >Dark side.

The other Asian nations can't be bothered as they all have their own Dark Sides to deal with.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

yes, yeeeessssss.... feel the power of the dark side!!!!!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The Sapio writers missed an item off their "dark side" list: tabloid hacks trying to boost their circulation by fabricating nonsense stories that pander to fear and pessimism.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

most of this is old news, some has been going on forever! And they forgot a couple huge criminal organizations including the LDP & the beaurocrats who have been stealing from us for decades on end!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The dark side has always been around! What's the news here?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

its always been around but seems like its getting worse as more people catch on that enforcement is lax and penalties are low.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

seems like its getting worse as more people catch on that enforcement is lax and penalties are low.

fds let me rephrase my point. It's always been around it's been as bad as it ever was.

1). Drugs could always be procured. 2). Tax evasion has always been around in the size and scope. 3). The Yak use to be far worse and have even more gun fights and hits then than they do now. 4). Illegal gambling, hell they were in every prefecture. Even in nara the serenist of cities in japan! 5). Prostitution well we don't need to say more on that right!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

....sham marriages with foreigners.

These sham marriages were with foreigners from certain countries. And the motivation behind those marriages was money.

It is so insulting when you just say foreigners. Not nice at all. I have seen many Jcitizens married to nationals from various other countries and have a good life. They contribute in a great way in creating variations in the gene pool here in Jland.

I, in fact have a lot of respect particularly for the European and Americans; The Asian culture is pretty complicated, and it sure is hard to adjust to it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Darwin 101. Dark or light, the law of the jungle can never be eliminated, only papered over by the veneer of civilization in better times. Natural order is not moralistic. Evil opportunists will always multiply in an atmosphere of fear and desperation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Within weeks of the outbreak of H1N1 influenza, hucksters were peddling spurious medications. Now, with reports of the first fatalities and fears of an epidemic as the weather turns cooler, more flu-related scams are a virtual certainty."

What, you mean like, MASKS???

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These folks have always been there, but it does seems that now they are more organized, and problems are more frequent. Media coverage is better, too, so reporting of these types of crimes is more open. Sorry to see this trend.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It strikes me that Japan has always been a great place to perpetrate a crime. You could truly sell ice cubes to these Eskimos because the people by and large just accept everything at face value. A nation this gullible deserves to get scammed. I think they are just lucky that the language barrier keeps a lot of the snake oil salesmen out. If Japanese were as prominent around the world as English, the nation's coffers would have never been built and then drained as they have been. They probably would have sold the archipelago for a bag of beans following WWII, because the beans would have been "magic beans". Hmmmm... magic beans.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A pretty clueless article on whole. The so called Dark Side is, has and most likely always will be here. And the avast majority of it is domestic.

But if you want a real dark side, just look at the institutionalized corruption that defines so much of Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds like the rest of the world. If you know anything about prewar Japanese folklore, literature, and history, you'd know crime was far worse back then than it is now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Join me Luke.....the power is strong on the dark side

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually, I have been confronted with two of the scams mentioned. Usually, scammers are very bad at mathematics. That is how I spot them.

The government subsidy scam is particularly entertaining. I bait them along. I ask dumb questions. Then I pin them down and see how long it takes them to get away. It is great fun. The subsidies are mentioned only vaguely. Asking for details about them is usually enough. A couple of guys tried to get me to buy solar panels. I did the math and showed them that even with subsidies and depreciation, I would be throwing away half of my money. I told them to come back with numbers. They never did.

I let a uniformed guy check my SEWER LINE, and he came back and told me I had to fix this and that... I said.OR WHAT? He calmly explained that my drain to the main sewer could cause problems for my neighbors. There was no physically possible way for that to happen, but I kept asking him questions. He lied to me for five minutes. He made up stuff and would not give up. Finally, I just told him to leave. He went next door. Amazing. The line was not five years old, and covered under the developer's warranty anyway.

One particularly shocking incident occurred when an assistant of mine allowed someone who vaguely indentified himself as a utility worker to go through my entire office checking every outlet with an unidentified device. I went ballistic when I returned to the office a couple of hours later. We called the utility immediately to verify the person's identity. It was ok, but she left that person to walk through the office unaccompanied for the better part of an hour. I considered that a terrible lapse in judgment, and she considered me a kook. I will never forget..."This is Japan", she said. Uh huh.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A nation this gullible deserves to get scammed.

I am sorry you think so. "Gullible" is a very pejorative way to say "trusting" or "honest". Why is it a crime (they "deserve" punishment so you must consider trust to be an offence) to believe that what someone says to you and to start with a presumption of trust?

Is not more worrying that non-Japanese and Westerners are now so cyncical that every claim is immediately met with suspicion of some ulterior motive? The Japanese live in a largely honest society where one can presume honesty. Many Westerners live in crime-ridden corrupt societies where one must presume deceit.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

seems the police are to busy arresting members of smap and that j-pop druggy women to work on these issues, haha

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites